We’re all aware that eating a healthy diet can have positive effects on cardiovascular health and is essential in keeping the body in tip-top shape. But a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients can also lower the risk of cognitive decline. “Brain foods” can protect against plaque formation, decreased blood flow, and inflammation, all of which may contribute to cognitive impairment.
Eating a variety of healthy and colorful foods that include unsaturated fats, leafy green vegetables, fruits, lean protein, Vitamin C, and Omega-3 fatty acids will fuel the brain and help promote memory retention, clarity, and mental sharpness. Below are some of the best brain food that people of all ages should include in their diet:
Salmon contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, which has been shown to prevent or slow Alzheimer’s disease as well as decrease inflammation, lower blood pressure, and possibly reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
Sometimes referred to as “brain berries,” blueberries are high in antioxidants and can have a positive effect on memory impairment and lower dementia risk. One study showed that blueberries increase the number of brain cells in the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory.
Avocados are a good source of monounsaturated fat, the healthy fat that promotes blood flow, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the risk of hypertension. These factors all contribute to a healthy brain.
Spinach, along with other leafy green vegetables like kale, broccoli, and collard greens, is chock full of nutrients that support brain health. Filled with vitamin K, lutein, and folic acid, studies show that spinach helps prevent dementia, improve memory, and slow cognitive decline.
An excellent source of protein, eggs also contain vitamins B6 and B12, folate, and choline. Choline, found in the yolks, is a nutrient that the brain needs to make neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood and memory.
One orange contains your daily dose of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights off the free radicals that can damage the brain. Strawberries, bell peppers, kiwis, and tomatoes are also excellent sources of vitamin C.
Nuts contain healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, all of which may have benefits on brain healthy. Walnuts, with their high concentration of DHA, are your best choice for boosting cognition. A quarter cup a day should fulfill your daily intake requirement of DHA.
In addition to consuming a healthy and varied diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, reducing stress, limiting alcohol, and refraining from smoking are all essential habits for boosting brain health. Plus, all of these lifestyle choices will provide health benefits to the entire body. It’s never too late to make healthy changes!